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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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Old 11-12-2010
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Single-handed anchoring

What is your procedure to anchor and get underway when single-handed with a manual windlass, a combination anchor rode of nylon rope and chain and a 35# plow anchor?

To me the operation is a cross between a 'Chinese fire drill' and a 'convention of one-armed paper hangers'.

Charles
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Old 11-12-2010
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Well, I would turn on the engine and have the sails ready, but not up. Go and pull up the anchor and hop back to the cockpit. Easy as that.
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Old 11-12-2010
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I do this routinely. Basically I have two methods that I use, semi-conventional and dead stick. In my semi-conventional approach I come in under mainsail only with enough speed that the boat will stop perhaps 50 feet to windward of where I want the anchor to be. I pre-coil the halyard with a figure 8 so it will run and do the same with the anchor rode. I turn up into the wind, lock the helm, blow the halyard, pull down as much sail as I can quickly before moving forward. On my boat I need to remove the anchor from the locker, feed the anchor through the pulpit and over the roller which I do quickly, and when I am a few feet shy of where I want the anchor to end up I drop the hook and carefully feed out the chain until I get to the nylon rode (roughly 40 feet) and then once the chain is below the hull I snub the line to stretch the chain. I then go back and make up the mainsail on the boom allowing time for the oat to stop and pay off to one side and begin to pick up speed paying out anchor line as she goes. When I get the right amount of line out, I snub the line around a cleat to slow the speed of the boat and set the anchor, you can pretty much tell if she set, but if not, I let out more line, let her fall back and then I hand over hand the anchor line and do that maneuver again until she does.

The dead-stick is a bit more risky in some ways but works better in anchorages where the anchor is harder to set. Here I drop sail perhaps a hundred yards almost dead upwind of where I want the anchor, then kick the helm over and head back for the spot where I want to anchor with the wind from astern. As the boat builds up speed, I walk forward and like before feed the anchor and lower away, only this time I feed out the rode carefully since there's a lot more speed involved. Once I have enough rode plus some for good measure I tension the line and use momentum to set the hook. This takes some practice since you don't want to tension the line too quickly or you will snap the anchor out of the bottom, or too slowly where you won't have enough momentum to set the hook.

If in doubt I start the engine, either back her down or else pull up the hook and reset it.

Getting under way, I pull up much of my rode so that I have perhaps a 1:2 scope. Then I raise the main about a 1/3 of the way up, which holds the boat head to wind and leaves me less to hoist, Then I tension the rode vertically and clean the mid off the deck with a bucket on a rope and brush. The vertical tension usually is enough to break the anchor out of the bottom. Once the anchor off the bottom, the bow usually pays off to one side. Once the anchor is stowed I walk back to the cockpit and throw the helm over hard to leeward, the boat will pay around in a circle and build enough speed to come head to wind and I raise the sail as fast as I can once the boat is above a beam reach so that its up and full by the time the boat is head to wind.

I then quickly make up the mainsheet and roll out the jib, back it or fill it to bear away to the side that I want to go and I am off. Timing is important and getting to know your boat and ground tackle before doing this in a crowded anchorage is a good idea. Otherwise...

Ain'noooo'big'ting.......mon


(I should note that I am doing this on a very maneuverable, moderately light displacement 38 footer. I am sure that a dead stick approach would be the best idea on a larger, heavier boat since there is less acceleration and steering capability and of course the ground tackle is much heavier.
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Last edited by Jeff_H; 11-15-2010 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 11-12-2010
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Thank you both very much - I feel better already.
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Old 11-12-2010
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Thanks Jeff, that's great. I have a heavier boat, but use lighter gear. When I bought her and brought her north (with crew) I had a 35lb CQR, 45' of chain, then nylon. She has a manual windlass, and my mighty crew would winch up the anchor as I kicked her forward a little under power. Now I'm alone, and I find the heavy chain and anchor very tiring. I still have that rig for serious circumstances, but I use a 17lb Fortress for routine anchoring. I just pull it up by hand.
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Old 11-14-2010
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When I set the anchor I just sail by the spot I like and I dump the anchor overboard. It falls and sets, stopping the boat and turning her around.
When raising the anchor I set up both sails and sheet in mizzen. It keeps the boat into wind. I manually pull the rode by hands if wind is light. Or, if there is enough room in anchorage, I sail by the anchor and stop the boat and let it drift backwards while I pull the rode in or, if there is not enough room or wind is fresh, I pull the rode using main winch, the only winch I have on the boat. I use this winch for halyards and for lifting centerboard. I have only 20 ft of chain, rest is a rope. 20 ft of chain is a distance from anchor roller to the winch. I can manually winch the rode in and lift the anchor by cranking up all rope from my cockpit and dragging the chain on a deck to the winch. Then I sail out into open and wash out all mud and store the chain.
Sometimes I get lazy and start the engine…
Note that I have Cat Ketch rig with freestanding masts, so sailing in and out of harbors, tacking and jibing, going backwards or sideways is not a problem under sails.
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Last edited by CrazyRu; 11-14-2010 at 12:10 AM.
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Old 11-15-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingStar View Post
Thanks Jeff, that's great. I have a heavier boat, but use lighter gear. When I bought her and brought her north (with crew) I had a 35lb CQR, 45' of chain, then nylon. She has a manual windlass, and my mighty crew would winch up the anchor as I kicked her forward a little under power. Now I'm alone, and I find the heavy chain and anchor very tiring. I still have that rig for serious circumstances, but I use a 17lb Fortress for routine anchoring. I just pull it up by hand.
The CQR is woefully inefficient and relatively unreliable. You could replace it with a modern SHHP anchor of literally half the weight for the same or better performance, or split the difference for a marked improvement in both areas. If your chain is G30 / BBB you may also be able to cut out some weight by swapping to lighter stronger stuff.

Don't rely on a Danforth type for routine anchoring, they're not general purpose anchors and do not tolerate veering loads well.
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Old 11-15-2010
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Thanks, I've been doing alright for decades and thousands of miles with the ground tackle I've got.
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Old 11-15-2010
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Two posts ago you were having problems with weight.
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Old 11-15-2010
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Craig, I understand that you are in the business of peddling the anchors that you sell, but at least here on the Chesapeake, Danforth and other fluke type anchors work very well as general purpose anchors at substantially less weight than SHHP type anchors.

If you read WanderingStar's posts carefully, it appears that what he was saying is that he was having problems with the CQR which is why he went to a lighter weight type fluke anchor, which has worked well for him for decades.

My biggest issue with the SHHP type anchors is that their sheer bulk would require me to significantly customize my boat to carry one, plus it won't fit through my bow pulpit and won't fit in my anchor locker, so I am left either with this heavy weight hanging out over my bow, or else detaching the anchor from the rode, hauling it over my pulpit, carrying it aft, and finding some place to store the thing, none of which seems like a great idea.

Jeff
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Last edited by Jeff_H; 11-15-2010 at 12:30 PM.
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